Affordable housing discussed

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The Steamboat Springs City Council grilled housing authority members about the affordable housing opportunities at Fox Creek Village.

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority met with the council Tuesday night, when members of the two boards talked about the authority's upcoming development. This summer, the housing authority is expected to break ground on Fox Creek Village, which will provide 30 townhome units off Hilltop Parkway.

Housing Authority President Kathi Meyer said the authority has not determined the specifics of the lottery system for Fox Creek Village.

For the last affordable housing project, West End Village, the homeowners were selected at random. This time, Meyer said, a lottery still will be used, but it also could incorporate brackets for different income levels.

The housing authority also is waiting on the final cost estimates from the contractor, Drahota Construction, to determine what income levels would be targeted and how many units will be deed-restricted.

Meyer said those at 50 percent of the average median income could qualify for a loan on a house of $120,000 or less. Those at 80 percent of the average median income could qualify for a home between $150,000 and $165,000.

"If our costs are $175,000, there isn't enough grant money to get us down to that level," Meyer said.

The very low-income bracket, which is 50 percent of the average median income, is at $25,450 for a single person and $36,350 for a family of four. The average median income for a family of four is $72,700.

Councilman Ken Brenner asked how the housing authority could provide housing units for the working-class people who need it most if they don't qualify for the homes.

"How are we going to get units for these people, where our work force actually lies?" Brenner asked.

The housing authority will have to balance how much it wants to subsidize the deed-restricted homes for and how many homes it wants on the free market to help subsidize those costs.

Meyer said the housing authority also wants to make some money off the development to set aside for future projects.

"It's what do we need to make a project financially successful without taking a loss to the community," she said.

Tuesday's meeting also was a chance for council members to reaffirm their support for affordable housing. Meyer said it was unfortunate that the city does not have a funding mechanism in place to go toward affordable housing. She pointed to Aspen, which has a real-estate transfer tax and can do million-dollar affordable housing projects.

Councilman Paul Strong said he supported the potential for the housing authority to have a tax to help fund projects.

"The most important thing is the long-term funding for the YVHA," he said.

Councilwoman Susan Del-linger said the city should support affordable housing as it does other major components of its budget.

"I would like to see this as important as open space -- as important as parks and recreation. I think we lost the point if (West End Village) homes are going for $250,000. I wouldn't qualify for that," Dellinger said. "I think the council should step up and do more than fee waivers."

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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